The world is seeing new threats to humanity. Natural and manmade disasters are shaking every nation. The political arena is turning more and more unstable as well. Humans must strive to uphold a better society for their common future and for the generations to come.
This can only be achieved if we fight for our human rights and hold to the global values that we all share. But what are these concepts exactly, and how can they help fortify the progressive and peaceful future that we seek?
Defining human rights
As defined by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Human rights are “inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status.” Every one of us is entitled to our own rights, without discrimination. And all these rights are “interrelated, interdependent, and indivisible.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) identifies these as the “basic rights and freedoms to which everyone is entitled on the basis of their common humanity.” This means we have the right to be treated equally, to participate in political matters, and to social, economic, and cultural rights.
These rights have been drawn from different cultures, religions, and philosophies throughout human civilization. In essence, human rights are standards for people for a dignified life; they are natural and innate to us, and they can never be taken away. In the words of America’s founding fathers, these are inalienable rights granted to us by the Creator.
Defining global values
Global values are an obscure concept that the international community wrestles with. Otto Spijkers, a researcher at the Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law at Utrecht University, stated in his research that global values are “enduring, globally shared, beliefs that a specific state of the world, which is possible, is socially preferable, from the perspective of the life of all human beings, to an opposite state of the world.”
This is where world law comes into place. It is a set of international laws aimed to realize global values that are acknowledged on a global scale. This is observed in legal interests internationally.
The banning of torture, genocide, and aggression; bestowing dignity to people, which includes the right to self-determination, freedom from racial discrimination, and apartheid; norms to peace and security; norms related to sustainable development are some of the important standards of world law.
A future that we all look forward to
Now, where do we go from here? Each and every nation, from third world to first world countries, has needs that must be met and developed. While each country varies, the United Nations has adopted a total of 17 Sustainable Development Plans (SDG) as the conditions to meet. These encompass the needs of people in general and responsibilities toward the environment for an improved quality of life — the eradication of poverty, inequity, and the protection of our planet.
This is possible if a change in the process is enacted, in which using resources, embracing technological development, putting investments where they are needed, and institutional changes are all leveled accordingly to meet the aspirations and needs of all human beings.
Human rights and global values go hand-in-hand. Human rights are an essential part of world law, which, as mentioned above, is aimed to realize global values. If people know their basic human rights and fight for them, then exploitation will not grow and foster. For example, the World Bank’s Women, Business, and the Law 2019 report states that Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden are the only countries to embody gender equality in their workforce laws. According to UNDP, empowering women and girls is proven to boost economic and developmental growth.
Globalization has brought about the realization that all people are entitled to basic human rights. As people march to claim what is rightfully theirs, world laws that bear global values support people toward equitable societies and the fruition of the SDGs. These two concepts, — one, inherent to every individual, and the other organic and shared by the international community — strengthen the common future that we all seek.